The summer holidays are fast approaching and it’s important for children to get out and get some sun and some exercise so let’s get physical.

Deciding what to do with the kids can be a tricky one!

Days out can be expensive and too much time at home can lead to bored and restless children and stressed out parents! Older children can prove difficult to entertain preferring to spend time on one of their many devices than interact with the family.

However, child obesity is increasing and is one of the aspects of health and wellbeing that Public Health England are focusing on at the moment.

In this age of technology children, and adults, are becoming less active with time spent outside just playing decreasing.

The summer holidays are a great opportunity to encourage your child to be more active and also the perfect time to get yourself moving about a bit more and releasing that inner child!

Children will learn from the examples set by their parents or carers, so the more active you are the more active they are likely to be.

I have also learnt through my work with young people that even with the lure of snapchat and selfies, most young people still really want to spend some quality time with their parents/carers.

How much activity do we need?
Babies should be encouraged to be active as much as possible, this can be anything from kicking their legs, to crawling and trying to pull themselves up. Floor based play mats and baby safe hanging toys can encourage this. Once your baby is mobile, encourage them to be as active as possible. Always make sure your baby is supervised and in a safe environment.

Toddlers need 3 hours of physical activity a day – wow! Don’t panic – activity can include moving around indoors, rolling around, playing, as well as more vigorous activities, such as skipping, playing ball games and running around outside. A trip to the park or a children’s play centre is a great way for toddlers to be active, using climbing frames, climbing over soft play or riding a trike really gets the body moving!

All children under 5 should be active as much as possible. Research has shown that sitting and watching TV for long periods of time, being strapped into a buggy or spending a lot of time on public transport can all be bad for a child’s health and development.

Children aged 5-18 years need 60 minutes of activity every day.

This should include a variety of moderate activity, playing in the playground, walking etc. to more vigorous activity, such as sports and running.

Three days a week should include some form of exercise that strengthens the bones and muscles, such as push ups, running and jumping.

Children should not really be using weights in their exercise routines as their bodies are still growing and significant muscle changes can cause issues as the bones grow.

Bodyweight exercises are an effective way to build stronger muscles safely. Or you can use resistance bands if you want to make the exercise harder. Always make sure you seek advice on how to do an exercise properly if you’re unsure.

As adults, (19-65), you should be aiming to do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate cardio based activity a week, things such as, walking, cycling, aerobics class etc.

That can be 30 minutes 5 times a week or however you choose to spread it out. Even 3 ten minute sessions spread throughout the day is beneficial. You should also try to do at least 2 strength training sessions a week.

Most of us are not even doing anywhere near the amount of activity we should be doing.

Children, once they get to secondary school become much less active in the playground often just sitting chatting to friends, so it’s really important that as families we try to make time to be active together and there’s less excuses to get out of it when the kids are badgering you!

So what can you do with your children to help them be more active?

Go for family walks – there’s plenty of nice areas to walk around Kent or choose one of the many coastal routes. For younger children it’s a great opportunity to look for nature.
Cycling – if you all have bikes, find a safe cycle route and go for a ride.
Swimming – great activity for all and low impact. Children of all ages love swimming!

Garden/park sports – rounders, tennis, cricket, dodgeball, badminton, volleyball, football. If you know other parents who are looking for things to do with their children, team up and get down to the park. Take a healthy picnic for afterwards. If you’re lucky enough to have a trampoline – get on it with the kids – 10 minutes of bouncing is as good as a 30 min jog!

At home – play games that involve activity. Get your kids to pretend to be a variety of animals; bears, dinosaurs, crabs, spiders, butterflies – all these animals make great movements that will work the whole body. Don’t forget to join in yourself!

Online – one way to use the digital world to get active is to use one of the many free online workouts available. Get your children to find some on You Tube that you can all do together. Yoga is also available online and is great for relaxing, flexibility and strength and great for mental wellbeing.

If you have children that are disabled or in a wheelchair contact Kent Sport or Thanet District Council who may be able to direct you to clubs and activities that will be specially designed to help your child get the most out of them or

Stay healthy – Leanne x